Dispatches from the Creation Wars

More Overreaction to California Bill

The ridiculous overreaction to California adding sexual orientation to their anti-discrimination laws continues, documented, naturally, by the Worldnutdaily.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has tossed out all sexual moral conduct codes at colleges, private and Christian schools, daycare centers and other facilities throughout his state, if the institutions have any students who get state assistance.

Utter nonsense. All he has done is taken away the state funding. You’re still free to discriminate to your heart’s content, you just don’t get publilc money to do it.

There is no exception for faith-based organizations or business owners with sincerely held religious convictions, critics note.


But there’s no such exception for religious discrimination either. There’s no exception in the law that says that a Muslim organization doesn’t have to hire a Christian, or vice versa. There’s no exception that says that a Christian group doesn’t have to hire a Hindu. I don’t recall them complaining of the lack of exemptions there.

“The gates of hell are prevailing against the church,” Randy Thomasson, president of the Campaign for Children and Families, told WorldNetDaily.

Well as long as you’re being rational in your response, this writer says as his eyes roll in their sockets. But for sheer idiocy in this rush to the bottom for the religious right, it’s hard to top Joseph Farah. In a column yesterday, Farah actually claimed that this will lead to forced conversions of Christians! Convert to what? To pagan religions that require human sacrifice. And no, I’m not making that up:

While much of the world was watching the forced conversions of two kidnapped Fox News journalists in the Gaza Strip, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger took a huge step toward forcing millions of Californians to convert.

It’s not Islam that Schwarzenegger and the state are forcibly pushing through all schools that accept any public form of financial aid for students. It’s paganism. It’s the worship of Baal. It’s a primitive form of religion that is making a comeback. It’s a faith that says sacrifice your sons and daughters on this altar – or else.

Then he sums it all up:

I don’t want to overstate this, but this is the end of religious freedom in the biggest state in the union.

Well I’m sure glad you don’t want to overstate it. Imagine what he would write if he wanted to exaggerate the situation? He’d be arguing that the new law forces Californians to bugger their grandmother on television once a week.

Look, there is a legitimate issue here concerning exemptions for religious groups. Caliifornia does not have a version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that requires that laws that burden the free exercise of religion be narrowly tailored and the least restrictive means possible to achieve a compelling state interest. Courts have long recognized the ministerial exception, but how broadly that would be interpreted in response to this statute is an open question. It certainly would give an exemption for a church.

If a church refused to hire a homosexual to be a minister, or even a secretary or choir director, the ministerial exception would certainly protect that right, as it should. But the courts have differed over whether to apply such an exception to religious schools, for example, and they have not applied it at all to business owners with religious motives. There’s also the question of whether the statute would forbid only direct aid to such groups (government contracts, for example, or special benefits like in the Sea Scouts case) or whether it would also forbid indirect aid (such as a voucher, or a state scholarship given to good students that was then used at a Christian college).

I would argue for both a broad application of the ministerial exception and for the passage of a state RFRA. I would also argue that there must be a distinction between direct aid and indirect aid. A scholarship or voucher is given not to the ultimate recipient of it, it is given to an individual citizen based on objective criteria. Just as someone who gets food stamps can use it to cook a meal for a church potluck, someone who gets a scholarship should be able to use it at a religious school. The Supreme Court is a bit mixed in that regard.

In Zelman, they ruled that such voucher or scholarship programs do not violate the establishment clause (and rightly so), but in Locke they ruled that a state could forbid the usage of such scholarships for religious programs of study. There is a case from Maine that has been submitted to the Court, and if they grant cert I would not be surprised to see them overturn Locke. And I would support them if they did.

There are legitimate questions about the scope of this bill, and I think they should be debated. But they should be debated by sane people, not by these crazies arguing that the “gates of hell” are prevailing or that the bill grants “new and far-reaching powers” to gay people. It’s a bunch of insane rhetoric.

Comments

  1. #1 Melody
    August 31, 2006

    I swear I would laugh if I weren’t so terrified.

    I’m sorry for harping on this, but I have to say it again: what about folks whose religion advocates equality and anti-discrimination? Isn’t our religious freedom threatened by a state’s refusal to extend equal protection to LGBT couples? I really would like to hear how these nuts respond. What principled distinction could they possibly make?

  2. #2 pough
    August 31, 2006

    It’s a primitive form of religion that is making a comeback. It’s a faith that says sacrifice your sons and daughters on this altar – or else.

    You hear that, Abraham? Don’t listen to the voices in your head! They’re wrong!

  3. #3 Ginger Yellow
    August 31, 2006

    Farah is unbelievably idiotic.

    These are the same people who consider the Boy Scouts of America one of the most subversive organizations in America because of their commitment to the simple non-sectarian principle of monotheism.

    In what possible universe is monotheism “non-sectarian”? Has this guy never heard of Buddhists, atheists, Wiccans, or Hindus, among many, many other faiths?

  4. #4 Ted
    August 31, 2006

    Isn’t our religious freedom threatened by a state’s refusal to extend equal protection to LGBT couples?

    I think I sort of understand your point, but doesn’t that sound odd when put into words?

    How is your religious freedom threatened by the state’s refusal to extend it’s reach (no matter how noble or progressive that extension would be)? What was the state of your religious freedom in this regard before the LGBT social issues came to the fore of being the domain of state business?

    Not trying to be contentious, but would like someone to explain the infraction on religious freedom by omission to act proactively in current trends.

  5. #5 tacitus
    August 31, 2006

    James Dobson’s been having fits about this for weeks. On his Focus on the Family program last week they were claiming that a student now risked having his/her government scholarship withdrawn if they said anything discriminatory. They went on to claim that no person was safe since we all make use of government-funded services like the police, for example.

    Ridiculous over-reaction, but it does serve to get the base all riled up, and that’s what they want most of all.

  6. #6 Daniel Morgan
    August 31, 2006

    Well I’m sure glad you don’t want to overstate it. Imagine what he would write if he wanted to exaggerate the situation? He’d be arguing that the new law forces Californians to bugger their grandmother on television once a week.

    bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha … ROFLMAO!

  7. #7 mcmillan
    August 31, 2006

    These are the same people who consider the Boy Scouts of America one of the most subversive organizations in America because of their commitment to the simple non-sectarian principle of monotheism.

    The people who earned the Buddist and Hindu religious awards will probably be surprised that they’re monotheists. I think the national position is pretty open so it’s more of an issue if the lcoal community makes it an issue. I have heard people having problems if they live in a heavy Fundamentalist area. But the only major effect of religion and Scouts had for me was having to write a statement of religious belief before I got my Eagle since I couldn’t get a letter of reference from a religious leader. At the time I was somewhere between a generic Christianity and deism and never even was asked about it. I doubt it would have mattered as long as I had some generic “spirtual” belief.

  8. #8 SharonB
    August 31, 2006

    Latest shrillness from the ADF:
    “Pro-Homosexual Bill Targeting Faith Community Signed into CA Law
    Family News in Focus, Jessica Stollings, 8.30.2006 (ADF)”

    Ok, so now it is a pro-homosexual bill, and it is targeting the [entire] faith community. Wow!

    They must know that they are lying.

  9. #9 Lettuce
    August 31, 2006

    These are the same people who consider the Boy Scouts of America one of the most subversive organizations in America because of their commitment to the simple non-sectarian principle of monotheism.

    Do the Boy Scouts allow atheists in now? Because, I read somewhere that the appeals court ruled atheism is a religion. And a monotheistic one (Darwin) at that.

  10. #10 Ginger Yellow
    August 31, 2006

    Sharon, I genuinely think they don’t. They honestly seem to believe that not being allowed to persecute others is persecution of themselves.

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